Innovate to Survive

Richard Wright

by Richard Wright

Thu, 10/24/2019 - 12:40


It’s great to focus on what you’re good at. It’s how agencies make their money and build their reputation. And if the work is fun, relatively easy and keeps clients paying the bills every month, isn’t that all you need? But what about next year and the year after that? Where will the company be in ten years’ time?

Two years ago, Burrows presented to our key clients a vision for the future. We called it ‘Staying ahead of the innovation curve’. It was a glimpse into where Product Visualisation could take us with real-time technologies such as UE4 and WebGL. The message wasn’t “let’s jump into these right now for live projects”. It was more about showing them our R&D plans and moving our clients in the right direction.

In the following months we worked hard developing our capabilities and talking with our clients about the future. We are now seeing the hard work pay off – producing some great new work for existing clients and new ones.

Today I got an email from a senior client who was in one of those presentations two years ago. He said: “Great progress. Congrats and thanks to you guys and team… we should take confidence and pride in everything achieved to date. We now need an absolutely flawless launch… across Europe. And roll this out across the range.” And the best bit – we’ve gone a step further for a global roll-out. In mid-November we will help this client launch their product worldwide using our new real-time solutions. And we’ll make sure, as requested, we deliver flawlessly.


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As I said, it’s not just our current clients that are benefitting from our forward-looking approach. I’ve been talking to potential new clients around the globe and all of them are blown away by what we are showing them. I was in Brazil recently where the C.O.O. of a major digital agency viewed our work, sat down and said “F%$£ me!” then spent ten minutes apologising. While the ‘traditional’ CGI work we do is loved by our clients, for new clients it can lead to a subjective discussion around whether they favour our work over their current agency’s. I describe this as a ‘beauty pageant’, where we hope the client likes ours more. Even if they do, there’s the pain of relinquishing their ‘safe’ and familiar agency relationship. Price can also be a deciding factor, where there’s a race to the bottom as margin gets slashed and long-term financial performance spirals downwards.

Doing great work is always important, doing great work with craft and creativity even more so. But to be successful now and in the future, you must have a USP, something that sets you apart, something that avoids commoditising your product, and yes, even something that makes people say “F%$£ me”! The task is then to take that product/service and turn it into a solution to a client’s challenge. Innovation for the sake of it is wasted effort. You need a roadmap that identifies technology developments, consumer trends and client requirements, then find the sweet spot where these and our capabilities meet.

We use three Cs as a checklist:

Are we Capable? Do we have the skills, or can we grow/find the skills?

Are we Credible? Is it a product or service that clients would see us being experts in?

Is it Commercial? Does it fit a client need and do we know the clients we want to talk to?

If we can pass all three Cs then we have a winner.

So, 2020 is just around the corner and what does it hold for Burrows? When we think about innovation, these are our two main challenges:

Build a sustainable and robust production pipeline for our real-time work that can be delivered globally for any client.

Prepare for the next stage of our real-time innovation (more about this in a future blog!).

All this whilst maintaining our current projects and ensuring our clients are happy to keep paying the bills.

Richard Wright

Managing Director